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December 2014
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Head-To-Head Shootout
Sony NWZ-ZX1 And NWZ-A17 Versus The Pono Music Player

Review By Steven R. Rochlin


Sony NWZ-ZX1 And NWZ-A17 Will start right off the bat saying i asked Sony for review samples and at first they agreed to send the NWZ-A17, and soon afterwards came excuses and delays. They did offer me other bits such as their headphone products and headphone amplification, yet that was not of interest to Yours Truly as am more the IEM guy. I do love the Audeze factory-made, limited edition 1 of 1 Steampunk LCD-3 planar magnetic headphones. So if Sony was not willing to come to me, the least i could do is come to Sony. Specifically, since attending four shows in five weeks last month-ish there was time to do a few comparisons. And yes Sony reps, i understand your meeting at the NYAS 2014 and the words said plus the spreadsheet on the laptop computer with your products as compared to the Pono Music Player. So what the heck, let's add in the Pono Music Player into the mix too for this comparo. Alas, no FiiO this time around and they also make some impressive portable media players (PMP).

With that said, you should ignore this entire review as it was done at shows and not via official review samples as supplied by the manufacturer. The music on said players were whatever they had on them, and thus making direct comparisons were troublesome, as a manufacturer rep (Sony if you must know) at TAVES 2014 gave me the nod admitting they removed music from their player to purposefully avoid such comparisons(!). Of course display units should have been up to spec over the span of a few shows. Or, at least, one would assume that. Also, all players were set 'flat', meaning no effects, no EQ... just pure straight out as default as best i could find in the menus and submenus, etc. And this leads us to....


Operating The Graphical User Interface (GUI)
Of The Sony NWZ-ZX1, Sony NWZ-A17 And Pono Music Player

The Sony NWZ-ZX1 is basically a warmed over, uninspired imho effort by Sony using the Android operating system. i enjoy what Android is doing and am using their new Lollipop (5.0) interface. Thus am familiar with the variety of their OS' all the way back to around 2.2.3 Froyo. Android is a wonderful OS imho, just that piggy-backing on it gave me the feeling that for $659 Sony could have done far better. The Sony NWZ-ZX1 was also laggy, meaning slow to respond to user input commands.

Sony's less expensive NWZ-A17 was a joy to use and my humble admiration to the code monkeys who made the OS and hardware interface a reality. It was intuitive, easy to use and fast to respond, unlike the NWZ-ZX1 from my experience. For only $299, The Sony NWZ-ZX1 is less than half the price of its' big brother and imho a far and away better value when it comes to GUI and actual use. Ok, the screen on the NWZ-A17 was not its' strong-suit, yet for under $300 you get a nice little compact package that works extremely well from a GUI point of view.

Pono Music PlayerThe Pono Music Player, which was a crowdfunding effort at $399 and had firmware 0.9.2 as i recall (those receiving their Pono Music Players in the past week or two have firmware 1.0.1), was equally as fast and responsive as the Sony NWZ-A17. The screen seemed about the same, basically. The Pono Music Player GUI was intuitive, easy to use, and inside the hotel at TAVES 2014, was easy to read. Something tells me in bright sunlight it might get washed out quite a bit yet did not have the opportunity to test that assumption (beware assuming as it makes as arse out of...). Remember, this is a non-review review so take all this with a grain of salt. Still, am intimately familiar with a wide variety of screen technology within more devices there than one cares, or dares, to count.


Listening to Rush on the Pono Music Player at Canada's TAVES 2014 show. Sometimes life just feels ever soooo right :)

Yes i did a full comparo listening sesh and my comments here reflect this and some listening sessions during other shows, too. So let it be said once again this is not an official review, yet my opinions are based on multiple listening sessions over a month-ish time at multiple shows using various headphones, with my mainstay being the Ultimate Ears 18 Pro Custom in-ear monitors that i've enjoyed for so many years of use. The UE18 Pros have been through three cables and a factory cleanings. So yes, i know them quite well both for their faults and their advantages. I would never try to run, say, the Audeze LCD-3 off the Sony players for obviously internal amplification shortfalls. i did try Sony's amplifier with their units a couple of times for curiosity sake, yet this review is strictly how all units perform with everything set 'flat' as best I can tell and as a stand-alone PMP devices.


Build Quality And Aesthetics
Sony NWZ-ZX1 Rear EndOnce again the most expensive of the bunch, the Sony NWZ-ZX1, is the biggest loser disappointment of the bunch imho. Did the design team fall asleep at the wheel? Was it one of those 'designed by committee' things or was being limited by the Android OS the main cause problems? Another factor is the materials used for the Sony NWZ-ZX1 and how they feel to the human touch. Sony's NWZ-ZX1 feels solidly built and generally nice overall. But, ummm, what is it with the NWZ-ZX1's huge arse? Perhaps Kim Kardashian designed this unit? i hear butt enhancement is getting quite popular. Ahhh, fashion is a fleeting thing! As a boy around four years young on up through my teens i literally grew up watching female runway models and dad creating/tweaking new ladies undergarments on the kitchen table, at the Atlanta Merchandise Mart, etc for major and minor manufacturers. Odds are right now you own some pieces of clothing, yes plural, for which my father gave aid to said company / conglomerate. The whole schmata sector is, to me, something of a case study in and of itself. Anywho, back to the Sony NWZ-ZX1. Look at it. No, really, would you call this design inspired? Would you call it pretty? It is something that, upon first gazing your eyes upon it, you feel compelled to hold and caress it in a (secretly) lustful way? i'll let you be the judge and jury (and executioner) here.

(Much humor follows) Baby got back! Sony's new Kim Kardashian model. Think about it Sony. You could license her name and profit off her like her APP developers are today. They're raking in truly massive money on that APP!!! And yes am kidding on the licensing bit, but i bet you someone from Sony, after reading this, might be doing mental gymnastics thinking to themselves about doing a marketing and profitability study.

Sony NWZ-A17Must admit i have mixed feelings about the less expensive Sony NWZ-A17. On one level i see it as something trying hard to look futuristic in the photos, yet in person it seems less-so. In the flesh, it reminds me of something seen on those Chinese sites i visit when looking for inexpensive chachkies. You know, comical USB thumb drives, stylish headband flashlights, good quality bulk refillable lighters on the cheap, and yes 'weird' gadgets. Love those Chinese sites and it is amazing how much the now-strong USD can buy you. Sure they're cheaply inexpensive priced, and it can be hit-n-miss on quality with these Chinese-made devices so read the reviews very carefully. i'd peg the Sony NWZ-A17 being priced at (removed my pricing opinion, as there is no need to be cruel). As i said before, the GUI is excellent, yet we also need to factor in the physical beauty. The Sony NWZ-A17 visually and physically is really quite nice and, tactilely, Sony's NWZ-A17 is impressive and feels fairly solid and well built.

Pono Music PlayerUnless you've been living at a virtually defunct Radio Shack company store, you have already read about the Pono Music Player looking like a bar of Toblerone chocolate. It almost looks like a child's toy in yellow color. The blue, from the pics, gets the same comments. Then again if you wisely purchased one of the limited edition versions, visually it goes up to something far more special. Buttons? They took the Einstein approach of "Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler". The yellow colored version feels solidly built and tactically is very nice. I'll avoid the whole packaging comment, as the Pono comes in a special wooden box while Sony's products come in the typical cardboard variety from what I've seen. Overall, the Pono Music Player earns top marks of all the players within this touch, feel, GUI and build quality comparo. It doesn't look expensive, though. Certainly not $400 worth in blue, yellow or black colors. On visuals only for the yellow, blue and black versions I'd peg it as a $150 accessory to some kind of TV or European audio device given the minimal quantity and shape of the buttons. The Pono Music Player is also lighter than you'd expect, which is a good thing when lugging around all one's toys and gadgets. It is also very sold and seems extremely well built. The screen is nothing to write home about, so about average there. Did I mention how very solid and durable it feels?


And Now To The ?All-Important? Part Of This Comparo
Because You've Probably Skipped All The Stuff Above Anyway
Yes, the sound quality stuff.
If you skipped the above assessments, then I just wasted hours of my life analyzing these devices and writing about them. The Sony NWZ-ZX1 was good yet nothing that special frankly aurally. At least not for the $650 asking price as compared to the many other products available within the marketplace today. If that is true, then just imagine what will be released during CES 2015 in a few weeks. The laggy GUI is another deal-breaker for me, too. Take your money and look elsewhere as I don't want to even bother taking any more of my time writing about that unit. That alone speaks volumes. Sorry and all, just not worth taking any more of my time to write about it imho (maybe it is to you?).

Note: Upon re-reading the previous few sentences during final editing... Wow, I can be really brutally honest can't i? Daaaaamn!

The Sony NWZ-A17 is quite a little overachiever. Don't let the small size fool you, this baby sounds impressive for the size and money! The reason I bring up size is that you can only pack a certain quality level of specific parts within such a tight little package. The output is strong enough for the highly efficient UE18 Pros, yet Audeze planar magnetic headphones need not apply. My ears rarely felt offended by the Sony NWZ-A17 given the proper audio material. It sounds better than the Apple iTouch or their pre-5 phones to the best of my recollection. Haven't bothered with hearing the new Gen 5 models because Apple doesn't seem to really care about the sound quality built in their units from best I can tell. Microsoft did with their Zune and have one of them here if you must know. That's probably why virtually everyone I know uses an external DAC/amp with their Apple devices. Sony's NWZ-A17 had good pace and rhythm, fairly tight bass and some nice inner definition/details. Not the last word, yet for $299 color me impressed... again given its physical size limitations. It does seem to be on a bright side, like someone from Asia did the sound tuning (Steven ducks for cover). It is akin to how certain manufacturers know certain cultures prefer a particular sound profile and thus tune their product to that sound profile. I did use the NWZ-A17's sound adjustments and at this point I came away under whelmed sound-wise. The GUI was excellent, loved it! The sound was on-par with what I think would be a (lower price removed) player, but the again what the hell do I know? Maybe it is the whole currency devaluation being a killer thing? Since Sony is a Japanese company, have you seen the USD/JPY two year FX chart? YIPES!

Value of USD going up as priced in JPY as the JPY tanks spectacularly during only the past two years.

Value of USD going up in perceived value as priced in JPY, which is tanking spectacularly.

And for long term chartists...

So how is Sony (SNE) doing during this very long timeline? Let us take a look and see shall we? Would you invest in this company? What is the below chart telling you?


Pono Music Player
So what does the triangularly-shaped chocolate bar sound like? I don't know, I generally eat chocolate so let's instead talk about the Pono Music Player shall we? Have you ever heard a Linn unit? Maybe close to a modern Naim actually now that I think about it. Vintage NAD gear from the early 90's you ask? Yes, close to that to some degree. For those unfamiliar with those brands of high-end audio exotica, I'll talk like a typical audio reviewer (boring, yet if you insist...). The sound of the Pono Music Player was clean, quite clear and a bit lean/tight in the sense of like a proper British piece of hi-fi stereo audio equipment. Uppermost frequencies were a teeny tiny bit lower in dB yet midrange was excellent and midbass and deep bass was tight and tuneful. Keep in mind this is all with firmware 0.9.2 and they could have easily changed things with the new firmware 1.0.1. Obviously the DAC worked impressively well given the $400 cost of the unit and the amplifier mating was impressive. (Side Note: Maybe this system-like mating and matching within the Pono is where the magic lives, as it was probably not electronically designed by committee or ???). While some microdynamics were a bit missing, the overall dynamic sound was impressive and clean. In fact the one word that keeps going through my mind is 'clean'.

The headphone amplifier stage was quite strong, like a Bentley GT/GTC with 600 ft./lbs. or torque. I'd peg the Sony units at BMW Mini 200 ft/lbs level. To continue the car reference, because all my reviews seem to have those, we racers say horsepower is how fast you hit a wall, yet the highly-prized torque is how far you can go though it. Torque wins races on proper road course circuits where truly talented drivers race. The Pono Music Player can drive the demanding Audeze planar magnetic headphones. Ok, not to ear bleed levels, yet very usable. With my UE18 Pro custom made IEMs the Pono Music Player will reach ear bleeding levels with ease and have additional 'torque' to spare. There is an abundance of power (and torque)! Wonderful sounding too, great stereo separation and you can set the unit so that the dual headphone outputs, yes two headphone jacks, work like a balanced output so one jack is right channel and the other a left channel. The advantages of this are probably higher stereo separation, and thus increasing the chance of sound quality improvement. Alas, did not have the opportunity to test this on the unit during this non-review so that's all speculation on my part (uh oh, Steven does an unfounded edge-a-makated guessing). Bad Steven! Bad bad bad so forget everything I just said about the two headphone jacks except the fact you do get two of them and they can be employed for separate right and left channel operation. There is no doubt you can use them both in normal stereo mode and have fun while listening and sharing your music with a friend.


A Very Long-Winded Conclusion-ish
You probably don't want to read this, yet hopefully someone from Sony does.
There's something I've been waiting to say for a long time, and now that I've got Sony's attention, and the above is my 100% honest assessment after decades of experience... Hey Sony, I've sold perhaps $1M of your equipment over the years. Was a huge fanboy in the 1980's and still have many Sony products I love and cherish to this day. Yes, even my old D-5, D-25, D-88, two(!) D-555, APM battery powered speakers (two different models/sets), yellow armband FM tuner from the 80'-ishs, had the top-line XBR CRT TV (KV-40XBR800 as I recall with matching stand). To this day I have all of them but the tube TV and stupid me sold the working and in mint condition with wireless remote option D-88 to a collector for $$$ years ago on CompuServe (dumb Steven, dumb, dumb dumb). Today, I use Sony wireless mics within the TV studio, Sony A6000 digital camera and Sony top-line flash plus Sony/Zeiss lens ($1k for the lens, a bargain for the photographic quality it produces!). About 15 years ago my dad needed a new receiver and didn't want to go vacuum tubes (again) for his 1969 Tannoy 12" Gold monitors and so we got him a Sony ES receiver and matching ES 10-disc changer. He used those for many years and the receiver works to this very day, with the CD changer working pretty much ok too. Color me very impressed and the sound of dad's Tannoys with the Sony ES stereo receiver was very good.

Sony, you also do some truly outstanding work in the TV and movie / documentary department. I humbly bow to your movie / documentary department. Car audio, was impressive back in the day with the XES system. You were so far ahead of everyone else back then, but not today. You, and perhaps Mitsubishi and Hitachi, owned the CRT market back in the day imho. The XBR was perhaps the best money could buy, and yes I acquired a brand new one with matching stand. The true vote is when one puts their life's pleasures where their mouth is. The XBR was replaced by the Pioneer Elite plasma if you must know. Still use the Elite to this day because, so far, I am not fully convinced of anything truly superior for watching films is out there including the new 4k panels I have seen. If you build it and it is that good, I'll acquire it.

Have spent more time that I want to admit here debating exactly when Sony went sideways when it comes to audio. Please pardon my street language, yet Sony was the shit back in the day (that is a truly epic and great thing!). I remember building a DIY boombox in the early 1990's using your APM battery powered speakers, some industrial strength Velcro on the side of speakers, with other side of Velcro sewn onto a CaseLogic 30 CD case. The top section inside the CaseLogic held the D-10, or D-25 or D-555. It did not get loud, yet the sound quality was far better than any other boombox at the time imho... and I worked at retail and specialty stores for audio back in the day so had access to virtually anything I so desired. Guess who bought and used the first dual-driver 'Fontopid' ever made by anyone (Panasonic BTW)? Me! Note that Fontopid is actually a Sony trademarked name, but that became the term we all used back in the day; akin to asking for a Kleenex or Scotch tape today. I could go on and on of how much I love Sony, truly I do. And maybe that is the problem, I love you so much that it hurts to see what you're doing the past few decades. What a misuse (imho) of resources and losing billions in the Xperia cell phone sector (ouch, that is more than just a rounding error for your accountants and stock holders).

If I had to guess exactly when Sony went sideways, it is during a New York show when your representative during a Sony press conference said that Sony would never make an MP3 player. When I heard your rep say that no MP3 player would ever be made I literally LOL (sorry, was an automatic reaction. Ah the stupidity of youth). Other press members within the room turned and looked at me, some with very forwney faces as how dare I laugh. Funny how this review is about Sony MP3 players, which also handle other digital audio media too. Can you taste the irony? Wake me up when we can seamlessly edit multi-track DSD as engineers do with 24-bit/352.8kHz (is that why you need DXD?). Then Sony made other mistakes too. Proprietary memory cards? Why? No, really, why? And how about the...

One word... rootkit. If you don't know what a rootkit is, think of it as packaging a product so it has purposefully coded spyware to avoid detection from anti-virus software. That's right, Sony purposefully made audio discs with hidden software, never telling anyone they were going to install spyware on your computer. Learn more at Wikipedia. You also opened up vulnerabilities within an already weak computer OS where other malware writers could exploit things to their advantage it has been said. To quote Wikipedia, "Sony BMG initially denied that the rootkits were harmful. It then released, for one of the programs, an "uninstaller" that only un-hid the program, installed additional software which could not be easily removed, collected an email address from the user, and introduced further security vulnerabilities." So of course came the Class Action lawsuit accordingly. How did that make your stock holders feel? How about the loss of faith from consumers, like Yours Truly, who deeply trusted you in the past? Some of those consumers remember the Sony BMG rootkit fiasco to this very day. Strike one is doing it. Strike two is denying it. Strike three is... you're out!

And now as you own, I mean help with, The DEG (The Digital Entertainment Group) and you're about to make the decades old CD resolution technology and somehow try to warm it over so that you can convince people that the CD is Hi-Res Audio? Seriously kind readers, The DEG, with Sony as an important member, wants to make that decades old CD resolution, or upsampled CD, labeled as Hi-Res Audio? Can you believe this? It is true and fact. They also want another longstanding and reputable three letter acronym Society to lower their standards too to meet The DEG's own desires. And we all know upsampling has been effectively free within all CD players for decades. Would you pay extra $$$ to license CD-quality audio downloads or an upsampled CD digital audio download? How does it make you feel right now knowing that someone is looking to re-label the CD as Hi-Res Audio? Did you know that digital mix boards and mastering facilities have been far higher than 16-bit/44.1 for decades. If you're the thinking type, then yes the CD is a lossy compressed format as compared to the uncompressed original digital music file recording and mastering facilities have been able to use for decades.

Oh, and by the way for those still reading this... you never really own the digital audio download, because go ahead and try and sell it. Go on, try. You are paying what i consider to be full price to merely license the ability to rightfully play the music. You do not own it. Nope, not in the strictest sense with the ability to sell said digital audio downloads as you can do with the same priced CD, perhaps slightly more LP, or you once did with formats including cassette, 8-track, elcassette, reel-to-reel, wire recorder, Edison cylinder, etc.

So what perplexes me Sony is your decades of innovation and doing great things followed by decades of being one of the most (deleted words) on planet Earth imho. But there is a silver lining! Your brand name is still usable and has value. Furthermore, you have some great assets too. Designers, engineers, etc. Your audio sector leadership obviously leaves much to be desired on both leadership and visionary capabilities and am sure your stockholders have watched Apple stock rise with the iPod and the like to multiples while Sony stock.... Here, let me post that SNE stock chart again as a friendly reminder.

You're lucky I'm not adding the Apple stock chart to the above. Are you getting it yet Sony? Do you realize where you went wrong? Do you realize what you need to do turn things around, because you already have as best I can tell all the proper assets you need to turn things around. It is so painfully obvious to me. And no, I'm not going to tell you what to do, because I am hoping that for quite some time you have realized Sony has serious problems. Thus the next step is.... C'mon, think Sony, think!

Oh, and let's all avoid another Class Action lawsuit shall we? You've been down that road before Sony and it wasn't very pretty. We all know the only one who 'wins' are the lawyers.

It always amazes me how many people have e-mailed me over the years asking for help, advice, or just to 'talk'. They love how straightforward and honest i am. Ok, there is a lacking of, how shall i say, tact. Yet anyone who e-mails me or asks me questions at shows knows i deeply care and telling my truth as i experience this thing we call human existence. Have gladly, and selflessly, helped more people in more countries than i could even try to count. It is always nice to have close friends, too. Some seriously good ones both in this country and abroad who have impressive positions within their chosen field. Lawyers, highly influential government officials, famous people... and readers here would be amazed who are audiophiles within this glorious world of ours. Generally, all they desire is to enjoy the music to the fullest... and fine luxury goods too. i gladly 'speak' luxury goods :)


I Loved You Sony
But then you lied to me (lost face)
Then you broke my heart (shamed our 'family' name)
And now you're about to rip everyone's Hi-Res Audio heart out too?
Yet all is not lost... because i still honor what we once had together many years ago.
Sony, I love you, truly I do. Because I love you so very much, someone has to share their feelings and thoughts to help you see where you were, are, and hope one day soon Sony can find an honorable way to flourish in the future. Please, pretty please with sugar on top and a cherry see my writings here as tough love akin to, as a family member, you have to do an intervention to another family member who is an alcoholic that is hurting not just themselves, but others around them too. Please read the above as a form of tough love. Please also allow me to humbly thank you for decades of truly outstanding research, development and delivering some of the best products that brought so very much musical joy within my life as a youth. With a tears in my eyes (literally), please do the right thing and find that 'next step', and the next, and the next I feel could bring Sony back to those great and glorious days. Remember those great days when Sony was within everyone's home and those who didn't, well then, they very much desired having a fine Sony product. I remember selling Brooke Sheilds a Sony Walkman... and quite a few other famous people bought Sony products from Yours Truly over the years. So did my family... and friends. i, too, gladly buy a Sony product if it merits the quality and features i desire.

Did I mention I truly do love you Sony, and so am taking my highly valuable time, a commodity which is becoming extremely limited and perhaps the most valuable thing I have within what remains of my life, and trying to help you with this article. The real question is, does Sony have the guts to do the honorable thing and willing to take the appropriate actions and non-actions, what are in fact a type of action too. Can Sony's ?corporatocracy? handle a strong leader who happens to be a true visionary and give them the ultimate power to reshape an obviously broken and almost has-been audio company sector that today wields from force instead of desire like Apple does today. Sony has long lost its leadership role within the marketplace imho, plus losing billions in currency and lowering shareholder value.

Apologies for being cruel, yet sometimes you have to make a strong point by making a strong point. Here, let me type this out for you to see. Sony's Xperia division recently reported a loss of, get ready for it folks...


136,000,000,000 or on October 31 (2014) JPY/USD value, $1,200,000,000 USD

"The net loss widened to 136 billion yen ($1.2 billion) as Sony took a 176 billion yen writedown at the Xperia phone business and cut its phone sales forecast for the second time this year" -- Bloomberg


I remember the day I took home the D-5, my very first CD player. I remember modifying the D-88 so the battery case had a shoulder strap screwed to it so when I was walking through the mall and using a 5" CD you could see the disc spinning on the outside while the music filled my soul. Hey, this was the late 1980's in South Florida and it looked sooooooo cool and sounded quite good too for the time. How about day after day of tanning on the Hollywood beach enjoying music through the D-10 / D-25 / D-555 and the Sony APM battery powered speakers because they sounded better than the Panasonic dual driver Fontopids and any commercially available battery powered boombox imho. I remember being in IASCA as a sound quality judge years ago with Bill Burton as a close friend and lusting for a Sony XES car audio system, as I 'only' had at that time a (now legendary) Alpine head unit and Nakamichi electronic crossover, Nakamichi four-channel amplifier and Nakamichi speakers as a car audio system.

Sony, thank you for the many years of musical bliss during many years of my youth.

And by the way, my love for Sony extends far past just audio, photography and CRT TVs. Here are some pics of my 'pet' Aibo (Artificial Intelligence Robot, homonymous with aibō 相棒). For those unfamiliar, the Sony Aibo was a robotic dog you could buy additional 'personality' programs for, or we programmers (unauthorized) hack into it as our small online community did, and then alter its activity and behavior traits programming accordingly. As you interacted with this robotic dog, it would 'learn' and 'grow'. If you treated it well, it was nice. If you treated it less than wonderfully, well then, you had an unhappy robotic dog. The small pic above is from CES 2001 where the Aibo came with me to Las Vegas, whilst the larger photos below are from the NYC Aibo Fair at the Sony Store on December 16, 2000. Once I was at the Fair and seeing what the meet was about, i loaded up the appropriate (hacked) program to operate within Mr. Silver Aibo. Oh yeah, go ahead and just try to take me on Mr. Golden Aibo. i dare you!


And So...
If you read this far kind reader, buy the Pono Music Player if you're in the market for something around $400 imho and don't look back unless you can afford the Astell&Kern AK240 for $2500, which is freaking incredible and so worth the investment if you can stretch your budget and want the very best imho. FiiO also makes some impressive PMP units I have been told, yet that is not part of this comparo.


In The End What Really Matters...
Objects are fleeting. Generally speaking, consumer electronics (CE) products come and go, companies ebb and flow, yet the music remains. Perhaps the great wisdom of Patek Philippe, one of the world's finest manufacturers that produce mechanical devices that mark the passage of time and space, is correct. With apologies to Patek Philippe, yet am rewording their company's advertisement slogan. "You never actually own a digitized audio file. You merely take care of it for the next generation." On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. Let us just hope members of The DEG do the right thing today as soon enough all their human members will be dead, yet their decision today may affect those for many generations to come. Virtually 100% of the production of all three of these devices within this non-review... they'll probably be 'landfill' in 15 years. So let us keep all this within its rightful perspective shall we.

PS: Writing this non-review is perhaps one of the hardest things I've done in years. Yet when you love 'someone' so deeply and for so many years they have been faithful and did you right, one can't help but give back in a loving way in hopes they stop being an 'alcoholic' and once again become a positive, productive member of society that you grew to love and cherish years earlier. They positively affected your life during perhaps also the toughest time of your existence. They were always there for you. You could depend on them. They felt like a close friend you could always depend upon to bring joy into your dark and depressing life.

Sony, your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one. Please.

And don't go 'back to the future' of lowly, perhaps lossy compressed, Red Book CD 16-bit/44.1kHz digital audio resolution. We've already been there.



As always, in the end what really matters is that you...

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin


NWZ-ZX1 NWZ-A17 Pono Player


Sub-bass (10Hz - 60Hz)

Mid-bass (80Hz - 200Hz)

Midrange (200Hz - 3,000Hz)

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)



Inner Resolution


Fit And Finish

Self Noise

Value For The Money



Type: Portable media player
See each company's website for specifications
Sony NWZ-ZX1 $649
Sony NWZ-A17 $299
Pono Music Player $399


Company Information
Website: www.Sony.com

Pono Music Player
Website: www.PonoMusic.com














































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